By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that President Buhari is doing us a world of good by looking at some critical areas affecting our democracy and fixing them? Do you know that if this administration could reduce corruption to insignificant level, decimate or make peace with Boko Haram, reduce the cost of governance, universalisingsocial security, and promote rule of law unquestionably, he might be considered for Nobel Prize for Leadership like his Ethiopian counterpart? care for more? Enjoy this time-out.
Hurray! Do you know that Ethiopian Prime Minister AbiyAhmed (43 years old) has won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to end his country’s border conflict with Eritrea? Are you aware that the Norwegian Nobel Institute made the announcement last Friday and also praised the important reforms that Abiy has launched in Ethiopia since becoming Prime Minister 18 months ago? Do you know that the Nobel committee noted that some people may consider it too early to give him the peace prize, but added “it is now that AbiyAhmed’s efforts need recognition”? Do you know that the committee showed its desire to give the award to individuals whose efforts need encouragement? Do you know that in his reaction to the prize he explained his hope that the award would influence other African leaders “to work on (the) peace building process on our continent.” Do you want to know what he did? Come along.
Are you aware that Abiy Ahmed took office after large protests pressured the old ruling coalition and hurt one of the world’s fastest growing economies? Do you know that Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation, with about 110 million people? Do you know that Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war in which more than 80,000 people died in between the two sides from 1998 to 2000?
Do you know that as soon as this Africa’s youngest leader got to power, he quickly announced extensive reforms? Do you know that he surprised people by accepting a peace deal ending a 20-year border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a conflict where tens of thousands of people had died? Do you know that the two East African nations had not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998? Do you know that Abiy once fought in a town that remained disputed at the time he accepted the peace deal? Do you know that within weeks, the President of Eritrea, IsaiasAfwerki, visited the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa and communications and transport links were re-established? Do you know that families that had been divided for 20 years were reunited? Do you know that the improving relations led the United Nations to remove sanctions on Eritrea? .
Do you know that the Nobel committee pointed to Abiy’sother diplomatic efforts in East Africa as he has tried to ease tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti and between Kenya and Somalia? Do you know that he has also reached out to different sides in Sudan to make peace? Do you know that at home, this Prime Minister offered one political surprise after another by releasing tens of thousands of prisoners and welcomed home once banned political groups? Do you know that he announced that Ethiopia would hold free and fair elections in 2020? Do you know that for the first time, the country had no journalists in prison? Do you know that he had announced the opening-up of Ethiopia’s economy and that private investment would be welcome in major state-owned businesses? The statement of the Nobel committee cuts in: “peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone.”
Do you know that the world is watching Nigeria as the most populous country in Africa? Do you know that as President moves steadily with gaits, pounding the walls of corruption, reducing the cost of election, maintaining security, fixing power, improving on import substitution, fixing the economy, universalizing social security and maintaining the rule of law, he may be given the Nobel Prize for Leadership? You care for why? Come along.
Do you know that our girls are making statements of protest? Do you know that we have not been fair to them because of their gender? Do you know that they have formed a GirlForce? Do you know that they are unstoppable? Have you spared a thought on why International Days are marked? Do you know that these special days are occasions to educate the public on issues of special concern? Do you know that they are to be marked to mobilize social, financial and political will to escalate any global problem affecting humanity? Do you know that the celebration of International Days predates the establishment of the United Nations? Do you know that the United Nations only keyed into it and adopted the strategy as a powerful advocacy tool? Have you heard of Plan International? Do you care to know about it? Come along.
Do you know that the initiative to celebrate Girl-Child came from a non-governmental organization called Plan International? Do you know that the body organized an advocacy campaign tagged “Because I Am a Girl” campaign, which raised awareness of the importance of nurturing girls globally and in developing countries in particular? Do you know that the representatives of Plan International in Canada approached the Canadian federal government to seek to the coalition of supporters to raise the awareness of the initiative internationally? Do you know that the International Day of Girls was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly? Do you know that on 19thDecember, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution adopting October 11, 2012 as the inaugural International Day of Girls? Did you observe the last celebration of the day which came up last week, specifically on 11 October, 2019? Do you know that the First Lady of the State of Osun, Mrs Kafayat Oyetola made a statement to the world by organizing a National Conference (OSUNWA 2019) to coincide with the week of celebration of the day to articulate issues on women and children? Do you know that the conference was well attended and was glamour-personified? Do you know that the OSUNWA Conference was a befitting testimonial to the value our First Lady in the State attaches to the fair prospect of every girl-child in the State of Osun and Nigeria? Do you know that the awareness about issues confronting women cannot be exhausted soon? Do you know the prelude to this awareness? Come along, please.
Do you know that the awareness started about 25 years ago in Beijing, China by representatives of countries that attended the Fourth World Conference on Women? Do you know that the conference culminated in the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: the most comprehensive policy agenda for the empowerment of women since human creation? Do you know that from there, women pressed this agenda forward, leading global movements on issues ranging from sexual and reproductive health rights to equal pay? Do you know that girls are interrogating other issues such as child marriage, education inequality, gender-based violence, climate change, self-esteem, and girls’ rights to enter places of worship or public spaces during menstruation to mention but a few?
Do you know that gender inequality is real? Do you know that, according to USAID, there are more than 62 million girls around the world who had no access to education? Are you aware that research has shown that across the world, girls ages 5 to 14 collectively spend more than 160 million hours more on household chores than boys of the same age do? Do you know that across our world, one in four girls are married before age 18 to face the harshness of motherhood? Do you know that millions of girls around the world are vulnerable to acts of sexual violence and the perpetrators often go unpunished? Have you imagined the picture of a young innocent girl whose head was pressed by a jackboot and the mouth of a gun inserted into her mouth while a huge rapist was engaging her in marathon sex bouts with chained hands and legs? Imagine it was a dream, how would you feel later? Do you wonder what Boko Haram would be doing to girls in their captivity? Have you given a thought to the fate of the Osunvarsity girl who boarded a commercial vehicle with an intent to go for special prayer retreat, only to be hypnotized, sold to a ritualist for a ‘whopping sum’ of ten thousand Naira? Do you know that she varnished untraced? Imagine it was a dream? How did you feel? And one more thing! Do you know that her abductor confessed to have sold her handset for thirty thousand Naira…..meaning that a girl-child was less in value than a low-income student mobile telephone handset in our country?
Can you forget in a hurry the daughter of a former Deputy Governor in one of our States, who while visiting her boy friend, was killed for ritual and buried under the bed by her supposed lover? Have you not read about a girl, reading in the evening in the Physics laboratory in one of our leading Universities? Do you know that apart from being subjected to excruciating ordeal of rape, her tormentors still plugged her hand to a live wire and she was electrocuted? Have you not read about the story of an undergraduate moving from school to her hostel in town? Do you know that as she was passing through the chec-point mounted by our soldiers to beef up security in that town, some of the soldiers abducted her to a corner and raped her in turns at gun-point? Allah Akbar! Do you know that she was still lucky not have been killed and dumped in a well or slaughtered and buried in a shallow grave like countless others?
Have you not read of the story of another girl…. violently raped by a group of cultists, after which she was strangled and a big lager-beer bottle was inserted into her private part and small note tied to her ankle with the imprint, reading: ”We Warned You”? .Have you not read of ‘çold rooms’ in some of our glorious ivory towers where lecturers perform experiments on their female students in special compulsory classes of a compulsory course tagged ‘Ladies Anatomy’? Do you know that many of those who fail in this compulsory course may never be certified fit and proper in learning and in character? Have you not read about the stories of sex-camps of girls lured abroad by human traffickers and how many of them were either humiliated or forced to drown at Red Sea? Have you not heard of how fathers are now raping and impregnating their daughters? Do you know that many of the girls who were victims of rape were now certified to be HIV-positive? Do you know that ‘men of God’ are equally involved in the morass? Do you say these atrocities should continue? Can you now see why 2019 Theme is “GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable”? Do you know that if President Buhari could deliver these girls, they would recommend him for Nobel Prize?
Do you know that the quest for liberty breeds in every soul? Do you know that our girls want to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls, eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices, promote and protect the rights of girls and increase awareness of their needs and potential, eliminate discrimination in education, skills development and training, including health and nutrition, eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work, eradicate violence against girls, promote girls’ awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life, strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of girls? Do you know that many of the commitments made to girls are left unfulfilled and each year, 12 million girls under 18 are married; 130 million girls worldwide are still out of school and approximately 15 million adolescent girls aged 15-19 have experienced forced sex? Do you know that more than 1.1 billion girls in the world are saying that they have had enough? Do you know that President Buhari should show stronger commitment to listen to the Girl-Child on strong challenges confronting them? The voice of UN Secretary-General AntónioGuterres cuts in: “We need to uphold the equal rights, voices and influence of girls in our families, communities and nations. Girls can be powerful agents of change, and nothing should keep them from participating fully in all areas of life.” —
Do you know that President Buhari has begun to set a new standard that may earn him Nobel Prize? Do you know that one of it was the single-mindedness he displayed as he presented N10.33tn 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly on 7th October, 2019 in line with Section 11 (b) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act which stipulates that the MTEF/FSP be submitted to the National Assembly not later than four months before commencement of the next financial year? Do you know that In the case of Nigeria, public budgeting is expected to follow the Gregorian dating, beginning on January 1 and ending on December, 31? Do you know that Section 82.1 of the 1999 Constitution anticipates that Appropriation Bill will have been passed before the beginning of a financial year? Do you know that the Constitution considers delay in budget passage as an aberration, such that new government expenditure is restricted and only functional spending, which is fixed to the corresponding period estimate, is allowed? Do you know that in the past two decades of democratic governance in Nigeria, budget delay has become a norm, with the standardized budgetary calendar adhered to only twice in the past twenty years? Do you know that the Federal Executive Council had proposed N10.007 trillion for the financial year but the figure was increased to N10.33 trillion by the National Assembly in line with the mischief interpretation of Section 80 of the Constitution? Are you aware that the President said that the 2020 Appropriation Bill was designed to be a budget of “Fiscal consolidation to strengthen our macroeconomic environment; Investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and enabling institutions, especially in key job creating sectors”? Do you know that he added that the Bill was meant for “Incentivising private sector investment essential to complement the government’s development plans, policies and programmes; and enhancing our social investment programmes to further deepen their impact on those marginalised and most vulnerable Nigerians”?
Do you know that the total Federal Government revenue in 2020 is N8.155trillion comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7trillion, which is seven per cent higher than the 2019 comparative estimate of N7.594 trillion inclusive of the Government Owned Enterprises? Do you know that non-debt recurrent expenditure include N3.6 trillion for personnel and pension costs, an increase of N620.28 over the 2019 fiscal year figure? Do you know that the President disclosed that the increase reflects the new minimum wage as well as the government proposals to improve remuneration and welfare of the police and armed forces? Do you know that he disclosed that N2.46 trillion is earmarked for capital projects, inclusive of N318.06 billion in statutory transfers? Do you know that N2.45 trillion has been proposed for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund to be used to “retire maturing bonds to local contractors”? Do you know that the 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar? Do you know that the National Assembly agreed to increasing the (oil) benchmark to $57 per barrel to allow the additional $2 to take care of recruitment in the security agencies and also to attend to critical areas? Do you know that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is bench-marked at 2.93 per cent while inflation rate “is expected to remain slightly above single digits in 2020?
Do you know that on sectoral allocation, the President hinted that the Ministry of Interior would get N35 billion as against N569 billion in 2019, Defence (N100 billion), Education (N48 billion) and Health (N46 billion) for some key spending? Do you know that he noted with delight the continued recovery of the nation’s economy as well as the increase in the foreign reserve from 23 billion dollars in 2016 to N42.5 billion dollars in August, 2019? The voice of President Buhari interludes:
“This increase is largely due to favourable prices of crude oil in the international market, minimal disruption of crude oil production given the stable security in the Niger Delta region and our import substitution drive, especially in key commodities,”
Do you know that there are four things as Nigerians that we must do to make the budget feasible? Do you know that we must ensure stable security in the Niger Delta to minimize disruptions, encourage import substitution drive of key commodities and pay tax to grow the economy for the 2020 budget to perform? Do you know that the July 2019,production of crude oil for Nigeria was 2.1 million barrels per day on the average? Do you know that oil price as at 23 September, 2019 was $67.360 per barrel? Do you know that we must support the drive to stamp out importation of rice and other food items to make the policy on import substitution succeed to put less stress on our foreign reserves? Do you know that we have to support the review of VAT to improve internally generated revenue efforts to grow the economy? Do you know that all of us must beg the current 9th Senate to conclude as soon as possible the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) to break the jinx? Do you know that the delay in passing the Bill is the greatest corruption known to man in the Federal Republic of Nigeria? Do you know that Nigeria is losing trillions of Naira per year as a result of the delay to the muti-national corporations working in that sector?
Do you know that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) has been there for quite some time and it has been there since 2006 before the Sixth Assembly and it suffered a lot at the time because some powerful interest did not want it to see the light of the day? Do you know that the delay in passing it has made the revenue derivable from the sector a mere dance in the circus? Do you know that all workers must be more committed to the system and refrain from strike actions if truly we want the 2020 to perform? Apart from the content of the Appropriation bill, do you know that the coming budget will have a full cycle of January to December? Do you know that if the experiment succeeds, President Buhari and the National Assembly may collectively win Nobel Prize for Leadership?
Can you still recall that President Buhari signed into Law the 2019 N8.3 trillion budget on 26th May, 2019, the draft of which was forwarded to the legislature on December 19, 2018? Can you still recall that 2016 budget was signed into law on 6th May, 2016 and 2017 budget was signed into law on 12 June, 2017 of the fiscal years? Do you know that this progressive regime has resolved to return the country to the January-December budget cycle? Do you know that in the bid to actualise this lofty dream, the executive and the legislative arms agreed to work together to put the budget cycle on the path of sanity again? Do you know that Nigeria was accustomed to this sequence of public expenditure until the dawn of the Fourth Republic in 1999 when the two arms involved in budget preparation and approval brought distortion to the system? Do you know that the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, has vowed to end the trend of budget delays by advising the Presidency to present the 2020 Appropriation Bill on time so that it could be passed before lawmakers proceed on Christmas break? Do you know that delayed passage of budgets has done incalculable harm to the economy over the years? Do you know that this is very vital for an economy like Nigeria’s where at least about 60 percent of economic activities are dependent on the direction of federal government expenditures and pattern of releases?
Do you know that implementation of infrastructure projects which could have promoted economic developments, suffer most with late implementation no implementation at all? Do you know that this problem paralyses economic development? Do you know that CSEA Africa once declared that whenever the budget is delayed, the country’s economy suffers 2.5 per cent depression? Do you know that the late passage of the 2019 budget had resulted into the decision to roll over 60 per cent of the 2019 budget into that of 2020? Are you aware that theRussian Duma (parliament) in 2018 passed the 2019 to 2021 budget with $62 billion surplus as published by the Moscow Times? Do you know that late passage of the budget is a disaster for the economy? Do you know that the quarrel on late passage of the budget came out of the different interpretations of the Constitution by the National Assembly and the Executive? You want to know more about that, come along, please.
Do you know that the crux of the matter is contained in Section 80. (1-4) which states:
80. (1) All revenues or other moneys raised or received by the Federation (not being revenues or other moneys payable under this Constitution or any Act of the National Assembly into any other public fund of the Federation established for a specific purpose) shall be paid into and form one Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
(2) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation except to meet expenditure that is charged upon the fund by this Constitution or where the issue of those moneys has been authorised by an Appropriation Act, Supplementary Appropriation Act or an Act passed in pursuance of section 81 of this Constitution.
(3) No moneys shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the Federation, other than the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, unless the issue of those moneys has been authorisedby an Act of the National Assembly.
(4) No moneys shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly.
Do you know that these powers given to the National Assembly have been mostly converted to pecuniary interest by the past leadership of the National Assembly by injecting their constituency projects into the budget, an action every President had fought against, an action which had instigated face-off with the lawmakers,an action which had robbed Nigerians of dividends of democracy for 20 years? Do you know that research has shown that a 100 days delay in the budget implementation tends to depress the economy by 2.5 percent? Do you know that research has shown that a comparison of quarterly performance indicates growth is higher by about 1.82 percentage point in quarters after budget passage than before? Do you know that delay causes uncertainty on government policy direction therefore amplify the economic cost due to the delay? Do you know that research shows that budget delay only affects capital expenditure, as recurrent expenditure falls within functional activities? Do you know that poor budget implementation is the root cause of poor service delivery and an inducement for diversion of public resources? Do you know that all of us must know that there is only one government and the executive involves both the legislative and the judiciary? Do you know that competition for attention by the arms of government has made a mess of about 20 years of this experiment? Do you know that if President Buhari and the National Assembly could break this jinx of delayed passage of the budget, the mass of the people that are going to get employment through the implementation of the capital votes would recommend Mr President for Nobel Prize?
Do you know that President Buhari is a man to be trusted? Are you aware that when he played host to the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) at State House in Abuja on 10th October, 2019 promised to beam the searchlight on cost of governance, and weed out possible corruption that exists anywhere? Do you know that the President appreciated members of the committee for the major sacrifice they have made in accepting the assignment to serve the country in that capacity? While noting how they might have been alienated by friends as a result of the assignment, do you know that MrPresident has directed that all forfeited assets be sold and the money put in the Treasury Single Account of the country to forestall any return of the assets to the previous owners, in case of any change in administration in the future? Do you know that such reversal of policy on corruption had happened before in this country, particularly between 1985 and 1998? The statement of President Buhari echoes: “Let’s see who will now take back the money from the treasury, and give back to those people, as was done in the past.”
Are you aware that the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, declared during the visit that Nigeria was lucky more than ever to have a person of President Buhari’s credentials as leader of government? Do you that he is right? Do you know that Nigeria is no longer respected for its oil deposit but by the crusade against corruption by President Buhari and social inclusion programmes? Do you know that the committee trains, builds capacity of anti-corruption agencies, and has helped to develop a programme of non-conviction assets recovery, which is recording great successes? Do you know that the committee has come up with some time-tested recommendations to get Nigeria out of the woods of corruption? Do you know that these recommendations include the re-establishment of the jury system for criminal cases in the country; setting up of a judicial commission on corruption in the judiciary to be headed by retired judges under the auspices of National Judicial Council (NJC); passage of Proceeds of Crime Act by the National Assembly; the setting up of a Presidential Truth and Restitution Task Force; and a closer look at the cost of governance to weed out all vestiges of corruption? Do you know that President Buhari pledged that his government would take a dispassionate look into all the requests? Do you know that he has vowed to reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria? The statement of the Chairman of PACAC, Professor ItseSagay, cuts in:
“We congratulate you for being a star of the anti-corruption struggle in Africa. You attach a lot of importance to the fight against corruption, and we have tried to achieve the aims you had in mind when you established PACAC,”
Do you know why President Buhari wants to start with reducing the cost of governance? Do you know that, generally speaking, Africans pay a hefty economic price to uphold their democracies? Are you aware that political democracy has spread across the continent since the 1980s and 1990s away from the days of military regimes and dictators leading to the introduction of multiparty elections? Do you know that there are still autocratic, long-term rulers on the continent but there’s generally a sense most African countries attempt to at least “perform” democracy with elections, campaigns and ballot votes even when most people know the outcome ahead of time?
Do you know that all of this can end up being expensive. Do you know that at least 20 African nations held and holding their polls in 2019 including Nigeria and Senegal? Do you know that the impact of the electioneering processes on economic growth across the continent is often significant? Do you know that political rallies do not come cheap? Do you know that the ambiguity over regulatory and policy direction during elections can also have an adverse effect on economies? Do you know that the cost of fear is enormous as companies,out of apprehension aboput election violence may consider evacuating personnel, shutting down operations or divest totally? Do you know that political parties in Africa budget for rain-makers and ‘spiritualists’? Do you know that in Nigeria, the postponement of the polls by a week during the last general election was estimated to cost the economy $2.2 billion, according to Lagos-based research firm SBM Intel? Do you know that in Kenya, the effect of the 2007 post-election mayhem saw growth rates fall from 7.1% to 1.7% in 2008? Are you aware that despite Kenya holding one of Africa’s most expensive polls in 2017, the economy also shed 1% of the gross domestic product due to disputes and prolonged electioneering? Do you know that research from the Daily Nation newspaper showed Kenya lost more than 50 billion shillings ($500 million) since independence in 1963 due to electoral turmoil? Are you aware that the post-election turmoil that rocked the Gambia after the December 2016 poll continues to impact its tourism sector, a key foreign exchange earner?
Do you know that one sure way is for governments to lessen election-related economic volatility by exercising fiscal discipline? Do you know that it is reported that the Senate of Nigeria with 109 members has 63 Standing Committees as at June, 2019 and that the House of Representatives with 360 members has 105 Standing Committees as at July, 2019? Do you know that the Senate of the United States of America with 100 members have 88 Standing Committees and the House of Representatives with 435 members have only 28 committees as at 12 October, 2019? Do you know that in Nigeria, each committee receives funding for its activities including salaries and emoluments for the members? Do you know that the entire revenue of Nigeria per annum is lesser than the revenue of three companies in California in the United States? Do you know that the entire revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria is lower than that of Texas which is the second most populous and second largest State in the United States
Do you remember that the 1999 election cost just a little higher than #1 b billion? Since the return to democracy in 1999, Nigeria has conducted six successive elections between 1999 and 2019? Do you know that the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections were regarded as the worst due to electoral chicanery and the high level of malpractices that characterized the elections? The voice of Umaru Yar’adua, former President of Nigeria cuts in:
‘despite the consensus by Nigerians that democracy is the best form of government, our inability to have elections that are internationally accepted and credible has left a credibility problem for our electoral process” Do you know that 2011 elections cost Nigeria N122.9bn as declared by INEC on 8th May, 2013 in a statement issued in Abuja, on Wednesday, 8th May, 2013 by the Chief Press Secretary to the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr. Kayode Idowu? Do you know that Idowu said the amount showed that N9bn was saved from N131.4bn initially budgeted for the exercise and that the the amount spent, included N66.3bn on recurrent expenditure and N56.6bn also on capital expenditure translating to $800.6 million at an exchange rate of N153.5 to $1 which prevailed at the time? Do you know that in 2012 INEC got approval of N2.6 billion for production of the first batch of 40 million cards and in 2013 got another approval of N2.1 billion budget for INEC to produce 33.5 million Permanent Voter Cards costing #4.7 billion to print 73.5million cards for eligible voters registered by the Commission during the exercise conducted between January-February 2011? Do you know that the funds spent by parties and candidates were not captured in these election expenditures?
Do you know that an estimated N1 trillion was spent by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, political parties and candidates for the 2015 elections as revealed at a two-day Learning Conference on the Regional Cost of Politics, held in Abuja? Do you know that it was revealed at the conference that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expended N8.74 billion in traceable media and other related expenses in the 2015 elections while all the other opposition parties expended N2.91 billion for similar activities? Are you aware that the Chief Technical Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinla disclosed at the opening of the conference organised by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy that the “core cost” of the election as represented by expenditure by the Commission and related institutions was $547 million, while total cost, including expenses by political parties and their candidates, was between $1.5 billion and $2 billion? Do you know that in the last general elections in Benin Republic, the core cost was $15 million which is less than what a single candidate will spend in Nigeria? Do you know that the present administration submitted a supplementary budget to the National Assembly in July 2018 of a sum of N242bn as the cost of 2019 poll as contained in a letter to the National Assembly by the President titled, ‘Request for virement and supplementary 2018 budget where the President specifically asked the legislature to re-allocate part of the N578bn voted to the projects inserted into the 2018 Appropriation Act by the lawmakers to fund the elections and critical infrastructure of security for the poll? The statement of the President at the National Assembly cuts in:
“As you are aware, the 2019 general election is scheduled to be conducted early in 2019. To ensure that adequate arrangements are made for free and fair elections, it has become necessary to appropriate funds to enable the relevant agencies to commence preparations. INEC and the security agencies have accordingly recently submitted their requests. These have been subjected to the usual budget evaluation. The aggregate cost of the election is estimated at N254,445,322, 600.“However, in line with the prevailing fiscal constraints, I am proposing that the sum of N164, 104, 792, 065 be provided for through virement or supplementation of the 2018 budget. I propose that the balance of N78, 340, 530, 535, mostly related to personnel allowances, fuelling and other costs not required until election proper, be provided in their 2019 budget.”
Do you know that despite the resources provided, the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections was shifted for one week on election day, February 16, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) citing logistics hiccups besetting the Commission despite the fact that the body had three years to prepare for it? Do you know for the elections, borders and ports were closed to business? Do you know that people were forced to stay at home, thus losing over $7.605 billion? The voice of the INEC Chairman cuts in:
“Following a careful review of the implementation of the logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections the commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible”.
Do you know that officially, the electoral agency got N189 billion budget to execute the 2019 project? While defending the budget, which was judged to be the most expensive in Nigeria’s history, do you know that Prof. Yakubu had said the increase was necessitated by a number of factors, including additional political parties, increased number of registered voters, among others? Do you know that according to the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (NCSSR), a total of 58 lives were lost during the course of the elections, with Rivers State taking the lead with 28 deaths? Do you remember that majority of Senators in January, 2019 stayed away from plenary, a development that forced the only nine Senators present to adjourn sitting for lack of quorum at a time? Do you know that much precious time was lost to electioneering, which should have been devoted to good legislative work to better the lots of the people? Do you know that according to section 91 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended, the maximum expenses to be incurred by a candidate at a presidential election shall be N1 billion; for governorship, it is N200 million? Do you know that the Act also places a campaign ceiling of N40 million and N20 million for senatorial and House of Representatives’ candidates respectively while it fixes expenses in the State Assembly and chairmanship election for an area council at N10 million? Does INEC have the capacity to monitor these provisions? Do you know that we have not been able to prosecute election offenders till now?
Do you know that the country’s huge cost of elections has surpassed that of the world’s largest democracy, India? Do you know that the 2019 general election in India began on 11th April and ended on 19th May 2019 and was found to be cheaper than Nigerian elections in Nigeria? Do you know that from 1999 to 2018, INEC had received N730.99 billion as budgetary allocations from the Federal Government, according to official documents reviewed by Daily Trust? Do you know that out of this, N450 billion was captured under ‘electoral expenditure,’ while N191.8 billion was ‘personnel cost,’ N36.9 billion ‘overhead cost,’ and N54.7 billion was ‘capital expenditure projects? Do you know that the electoral expenditure started with N1.5 billion in 1999 to N29 billion in 2002, N45.5 billion in 2006, N111 billion in 2010, and down to N87.8 billion in 2014 and over #220 billion in 2019? The voice of the Chief Technical Adviser to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Bolade Eyinlacuts in:
“In the last general elections in Benin Republic, the core cost was $15 million, and then you had a candidate who, alone, spent about $32 million.In Nigeria, our core cost was $547 million. It is perhaps the most expensive elections that we have ever seen”. ,
Do you know that posterity will recommend President Buharifor Nobel Prize if he can fix our elections with the least cost to the tax-payers? Do you know that Nigerians should always be encouraged not to think of any other alternatives now and forever? Long Live! President Buhari!